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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Harry Siitonen Berkeley 2009

8th Finglish trip June 2009 #13

Harry Antero Siitonen was born in Worcester Massachusetts 1926. His parents, Antti and Anna (née Saikkonen) moved to America in 1915. Harry Siitonen has a degree in journalism from Michigan State University. Although he is retired from newspaper work, his own webpages are full of articles on the history of his own family and American labour movement, not mention his large output of translations and poetry.

Siitonen has always been an active union member and sports enthusiast. He participates in marathons, ultra-marathons and competition walking. After turning 50 he was won the US championship in the veteran marathon on three occasions. Harry Siitonen has visited Finland several times as a sports reporter, and his excellent command of Finnish has helped him on his visits.

The cornerstone of the Finnish Hall at 1970 Chestnut Street in Berkeley was laid on October 9, 1932, on land donated by Berkeley Finnish-American manufacturer Walter Mork. The building of the hall was commissioned by the UFKB&S Lodge 21 as its meeting, cultural and recreational facility. The United Finnish Kaleva Brothers and Sisters, UFKB&S was created to help newly emigrated Finns orient to American culture. Berkeley was the 21st lodge to join this umbrella organization, and is the second largest in the organization.

The Finnish Comrades' Association, popularly known as The Comrades, was incorporated in June of 1908.The Comrades obtained a lot on Tenth Street in Berkeley for the construction of a meeting hall and on October 25th of 1908 the construction commenced. The remarkable Finnish Hall was completed in June of 1909 and became a major venue for public meetings of the Finnish community of West Berkeley.

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